From phoning the authorities to gathering evidence and speaking with your insurance company, you've taken all the necessary steps to protect yourself after an automobile accident. Unfortunately, even if you perform all the right steps and try to work out a reasonable settlement with the other driver, there is still a chance they will take you to court. If you are facing a future automobile accident trial, here are a few questions you might have about what's next:
When Should I Hire an Attorney?
Ideally, you should have consulted a lawyer as quickly as possible after the accident occurred. If you do not already have representation, it is critical you contact an attorney immediately. Remember, even though the plaintiff has the burden of proving you are at fault beyond a reasonable doubt, you will still need someone who is experienced to guide you through the process.
In most cases, your first consultation with an attorney will be free. During this time, explain your case and work with your attorney to determine if there are still options to help you avoid court. For example, your lawyer might suggest mediation. During this process, an impartial third party will help work out a settlement that both parties will find agreeable.
Additionally, even if the other driver wasn't willing to settle in the past, your skilled and experienced attorney might be able to persuade them to change their mind. Remember, the cost of a trial is potentially large, and it is in your best interest to settle outside of court. Hiring a lawyer that can work with the other driver's attorney is a great first step to help you stay out of the court room.
Is There Anything I Might Do That Would Weaken My Case?
If your attorney cannot persuade the other driver to settle outside of court, you will be headed to a jury trial. In the weeks and months leading to the trial, you will under a microscope, and any actions you take can negatively impact your case.
Here are a few mistakes that can potentially damage your case:
- Independently talking with the other party's attorney or insurance provider – Your lawyer is there is protect and guide you, so it is vital you allow them to speak for you. Never attempt to work out a settlement with the other driver's attorney. Doing this will leave you vulnerable to further litigation.
- The dangers of social media – It is vital that you never discuss your case with anyone except your attorney. This includes your family, friends, and the millions of people on social media. Remember, the other party's attorney will keep a watchful eye on you, including your activity on the internet.
- Always tell the truth -- It is vital that you are always truthful when you speak with your attorney. Your attorney will be able to craft a more effective defense strategy if you are upfront about the details of the accident.
How Will I Win My Case?
According to Nolo, to win your case, your attorney must effectively prove that you were not liable for the accident, and that the other driver caused damage to either you, your vehicle, or both. This can be tricky if you are at fault. However, before you assume that your case is doomed, it is important to remember that you hired a skilled attorney to help you get through the process.
The best way you can help your attorney win the case is to provide plenty of information about the accident, including where it happened and any evidence you have that the other driver was at fault, and work with them by staying quiet about the accident, until the trial is finished.
Being in an automobile accident can be devastating, and it is made worse if you are facing a trial. If you are being taken to court by the other driver, don't wait; instead, hire an auto accident lawyer to help you navigate this tricky process.